A New South Wales government project to make open source
software and solutions cheaper and more accessible to its
agencies is understood to have been boosted by IBM's confirmation
of its membership of a panel of authorised suppliers.
IBM joins CSC, Novell and a handful of small to
medium-sized suppliers who have inked contracts authorising their
participation in the panel after a lengthy negotiation process
with state government officials.
An IBM spokeswoman was unable to confirm the heavyweight's
status regarding the panel. However, a Department of Commerce
spokeswoman said Big Blue had signed up.
The news comes after Novell last week released a statement
claiming its agreement with NSW "was a great endorsement of the
advantages that open source has to offer, particularly for
government where security and cost issues are of paramount
However, the panel contract does not obligate any department or agency
to purchase open source software or solutions.
It does provide a formal contractual framework for suppliers,
levelling the playing field in the competition between open
source and proprietary software in the state procurement
The Department of Commerce spokeswoman said the first step for
the government was to make Linux and other open source offerings
"a real alternative" for agencies, who "liked to use" the panel
Actual takeup within the state government would depend on a
range of factors, including agency upgrade and renewal
She pointed out that while awareness of Linux and open source
software may be high within the information technology community
in agencies, it may be much lower within non-IT management
The state Minister for Commerce, John Della Bosca, unveiled
the names of the vendors to be invited onto the panel on 5 April
last year following an evaluation process that dragged on for
several months after a request for tender closed on 28 October
Dell, Fujitsu, Hewlett-Packard, Red Hat and Sun Microsystems
are believed to be still in negotiations over final contracts.
A spokesperson for Dell confirmed that while it had not signed
up yet, it planned to do so shortly. However, the vendor made a
similar response when questioned in October last year.
Red Hat's general manager, Australia and New Zealand, Max
McLaren, told ZDNet Australia in October last year that
negotiations between his company and the Department of Commerce
were slowed by government concerns over indemnification and
intellectual property issues involving the open source model.